In thinking about the past week, and more specifically, this past weekend, there is one major non event that most people seemed to be tuned in to: The Rapture. Yes, the Family Radio group has been preaching for months now in their RVs that the end of the world was going to happen this weekend. It got a lot of air play, and spread like wildfire through the “internets”. Now Mr Family Radio has over one hundred million in his account, and many people were left here in the real world. For those of you keeping count, this is now the second time that Harold Camping has declared the world would end. We first hit that date in 1994. The proposed date, September 6, came and went without any great fanfare. But this is the day of over-information sharing. Here we are in 2011, and the new prophecy came out that the world was going to end on May 21. And the message spread rapidly.
He had a plan, a radio broadcast, and a site. Many other groups started to inadvertently spread the word, not because they believed, but because they were ridiculing this. So now we are here. The guy was 0 for 1 and still people believed him. No matter what your religious persuasion be, I think one thing we can agree on, is humans are not that bright to figure out what a deity may be thinking or planning. Heck we have been on this planet for (at the very least 3000 years), and no civilization have been able to figure out “the gods”. But it did not matter with this. People wanted to believe something. They followed this guy because of his message, his charisma, his leadership and unwavering belief that this event would occur. And it did not. Now comes the time of denial and flabbergasted responses.
So what positive lesson can we learn from this event? One thing I can take from this is a company has got to give the public something it believes in. This is mainly for the smaller businesses, but can also apply to bigger businesses. Many times a business will just push products out and not really put the belief in the product. Have a plan of action to promote the product along avenues that suit your targeted demographic. Camping did not buy air time during the Fox Business Channel market watch, nor did he get time with leaders of the world, or powerful business men. He went around in RVs to people whom he felt would be receptive to the message. He was not ostentatious about the message either, he appeared humble, and kept the message on a level for mass understanding.
Now, I am not saying go out and be evil about the marketing, nor am I saying put the fear of God into people so they give you money. Be practical about it, message it properly, and believe in what you do. Yes this whole campaign by Family Radio was big, but it flopped. And that is the next biggest lesson to learn from this whole non-event. If you are going to make promises, deliver when it comes time to deliver, otherwise do not promise anything you can not reasonably deliver. That will kill your business quicker than anything else.
Now will Family Radio recover? Possibly. Remember this is the day of over-information. We will laugh about it, and we will keep it in our consciousness for the next few days, then it will be “so last month”. And there will be the next major gaffe about to happen. Just make sure it is not you or your business that is on the receiving end.